Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

The Best Thing about Blogging – New Friendships

In 2007, my husband Mark and I bought a 35ft catamaran in Annapolis, Maryland, called it Irie, and sailed into the sunset. We had no idea how long the adventure would last or where we’d end up. Our first destination was the Bahamas and we planned to live this cruising lifestyle until “we ran out of money”, or “it wasn’t fun anymore”. To document our journey and experiences, and as an alternative to writing group emails, which I had done my whole (traveling) life, I started my first blog. I called the website It’s Irie. Comments were rare; the availability of internet defined when I posted and whether I could upload photos. The blog continued as long as our sailing trip; eight years.

Irie blog

When we sold Irie in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and moved to the US for the time being, I wanted to start a new blog. It took me forever to find a suitable name, that was still available as a domain name and that would be fitting and timeless. Roaming About was born in October 2015, the same time we started a new, boat-less, lifestyle of house and pet sitting. I entered an era where blogging had become more popular and serious. My sailing friend Lisa of One Ocean at a Time suggested a few of her favorite blogs to me. “When you read these blogs and leave a comment, their wonderful authors will return the favor,” she wrote in an email. That’s how my social interactions with fellow bloggers began.

By following some of these people’s blogs and communicating through comments, I felt like I was getting to know them on a personal level. I was making new friends in the blogging world. But, it was all still on a virtual level, where photos of the blog authors only helped so much. The next best thing, was to meet some of these new friends in real life. The first time that happened, was almost a year ago, when Mark and I met Sue and Dave from Travel Tales of Life, during our first house sit in Northern California. These Canadian adventurers treated us to dinner and we had a fabulous time.

Temporarily moving to California seemed to open a lot of doors, when it came to some of my favorite North American bloggers. When this particular house sit in Rocklin, CA, ended, Terri from Second Wind Leisure Perspectives (who posts about leisure, fitness, photography topics, and provides free photos), graciously offered us a place to stay, to fill part of our gap in between house sits. We met Terri and her husband Hans in Sacramento, and spent two fun evenings together. My blogging family was growing, and it was so nice to put a face to the names online.

Terri and Liesbet

During a short house sit in Southern California not much later, Mark and I drove down to San Diego, to meet Janis from Retirementally Challenged, and her husband Paul. Janis writes about her retired lifestyle, travels and things to be grateful for. Once again, time flew by too quickly and the interesting conversations could have lasted through the night. Unfortunately, we were on a tight schedule. To read about my meetings with Terri and Janis earlier this year, check out this post.

Liesbet and Janis

The Grand Finale (for now) in the form of a real two-day blogger gathering, took place last week in Palm Desert. Here, Donna from Retirement Reflections, Kathy from Smart Living 365, Janis, Terri, and I would get together for drinks, meals, girl-time and blog-talk. Unfortunately, I could not make it, due to my new pet sitting commitments.

But… Two weeks prior to that, after our National Park tour in Utah, Mark and I made a little detour to Palm Desert before starting our current house sit in San Diego. I met Kathy (who encourages her blog and book readers to follow a simple, sustainable and rewarding lifestyle she calls “rightsizing”) and Donna (who blogs about her transition into retirement, insights and travel notes) for the first time. Once again, the evening and following morning were a success. We have a lot of things in common and our open-mindedness, curiosity and adventurous spirits made for no dull moments. It appeared as if I was meeting old friends.

The same thing happened when Janis and I saw each other again during my first week in San Diego, earlier this month. We had a healthy lunch together, shared our latest news, and she showed me around the city. I am expecting the same familiarity and fun social times, when Terri visits San Diego later this year.

San Diego Bay and skyline

So, while I enjoy writing about our experiences and travels, and love sharing our lifestyles and photos with my blog readers, getting to meet fellow bloggers in person is a highlight of different sorts. Without exception, I have enjoyed coming face to face with all these interesting people, and, since our current lifestyle involves lots of moving around and not being part of any community, you can probably understand how big of a bonus this is, has been, and will be!

Fun times with Kathy and Donna – photo courtesy Thom Gottberg

All five bloggers involved in the recent meet-ups in Palm Desert, California, wrote posts about those events today. To read Donna’s take on the blogger gatherings, click here. Kathy’s story can be found here. Janis’ insights are recorded here. And, Terri’s recap is composed here. Have fun meeting these incredible ladies, if you haven’t already!

Have you met any bloggers you follow in real life? Have you gone to any blogger gatherings?

50 Comments

  1. And we ALMOST got to meet! Too bad your possible job near us didn’t happen, but I’m sure there will be another opportunity in the future. I still have not met any of the many bloggers that I truly consider friends at this point although I have gotten close. With people being all over the world, it’s a little tougher, but someday it’s going to happen! What I find amazing is the great advice I’ve gotten from my new online friends as I plan trips. We switch over to personal email, and the best ideas have come from them. It’s been such a surprisingly rich and rewarding experience – one I never anticipated when I started my blog in 2014. Glad to count you among my blogging friends!

    • I guess we came one step closer to meeting, Lexie. And, I’m sure it will happen one day soon, the way we are both roaming the globe. I am so looking forward to that. I sometimes play with the idea to do a world tour, staying with and visiting blogging friends (and friends made while sailing and RVing) everywhere. Wouldn’t that be fun? Maybe a tad over-stimulating. 🙂 It has been a rewarding and unexpected experience and wonderful “side-effect” of blogging to form all these new friendships. Happy to count ours among them.

  2. Hi Liesbet! I think that meeting other writer/bloggers in person is definitely one of the unanticipated joys that comes from the writing life. Obviously we would never have met (unless I got lucky and found you through pet-sitting) if we hadn’t connected through other friends that blog. You have such an interesting and creative life and it was a great pleasure to meet both you and Mark. I sincerely hope our paths cross many times again in the future…and yes, we hope to reconnect sometime in January ’18 in San Diego. Until then… ~Kathy

    • I feel very fortunate to have gotten to know you as well, Kathy. Indeed, thanks to mutual blogging pals! We are on the same page about so many things that I’m sure we will never run out of topics to talk about. Being self-employed and/or writing and working from home means that these new and strong connections are even more special and important! See you in a couple of months.

  3. Blogger meet ups are the best and even better when true friendships are forged. I’ve met some of the nicest people via blogging and hope to meet you someday in person as well. Thanks for enlightening me to some new blogs 🙂

    • You have been very fortunate as well to meet some of your followers and make many friends along the way, whether through blogging or RVing, Ingrid. Social interactions are such a joy when living an isolated or roaming life. I’m sure being in a camper and meeting like-minded souls is very satisfying as well. Here’s to newly forged friendships and meeting up one day! We both enjoy warmer climates, so I’m sure this will happen sooner than later. 🙂

  4. I’m so sorry that you couldn’t join us for the meet-up last week, but you were definitely there in spirit. Now that you are close by for the next few months, I am looking forward to having our own mini-meet-ups. And, since we plan to gather again next year, maybe you can plan another Southern California sit at that time (hint, hint).

    • I haven’t the faintest idea where we will be and what will happen a full year from now, Janis, but it would be nice to return to San Diego over another winter. Except if we find ourselves in Mexico or back in the tropics by then. 🙂 What I do know is the short-term plan: being in San Diego until the end of January 2018. And, during that time, I hope we get plenty of opportunity to hang out and catch up!

  5. That’s so cool! As you know, I recently got to meet Ryan Carty from Residuals. It was so much fun to meet him in person, and we got along great.

    I’ve also met Anna from Emaginette. It would be amazing to meet you in person one day!

    • Oh, how I would enjoy meeting you in person, jh! It would have to happen over the summer if it is anywhere near you, though. 🙂 And, it is a pity I didn’t get to meet Ryan yet, despite him living in Utah. The National Parks got first dibs. I have seen Anna float around in the internet sphere, but I should check out her blog more often.

  6. I’ve been blogging forever and have experienced the same thing as you: leave a comment, interact, connect– enjoy another new person in your life. I’ve never been to a blogging event with “real” people, but the one you had in Palm Springs sounds great. Thanks for sharing your take on it here on your blog.

    • Hi Ally, thanks for swinging by and leaving a comment. Blogging has a lot of advantages, some more obvious than others. But, it has one big negative for me as well: it is very time-consuming, especially when you try to connect and interact!

      I’m relatively social and flexible meeting new people, but I have heard from others that it can be a bit intimidating to meet people you only know from social media. And, it’s true, you never really know how an encounter will work out. So far, so good, I have to say. 🙂

  7. Meeting bloggy pals in real life is one of the greatest things about blogging for me too. I’ve met so many interesting and fun people through our blog. Hopefully, our paths will cross one of these days as well.

    • I agree, Ellen. These personal connections make is all much more interesting and worthwhile! Yes, I hope we will meet one of these years – either on land or on the water! Either way, somewhere warm. 🙂

  8. Liesbet, I truly enjoy your blog, both from the perspective of your travel adventures and your house sitting, and someday, I hope to meet you in person. It sounds as if you have had a wonderful time in Southern Cal. meeting up with some of our favorite blogger gals. Thanks for sharing! ~ Lynn

    • Hi Lynn, where are you located? I’m all for meeting up one day. Once Mark and I move into our camper full-time, with interspersed house sits, the possibilities are endless. 🙂

  9. One of these days I’ll meet you, Liesbet. That’s one thing I’m very sure of. So glad you’ve had the chance to get to know some of your fellow bloggers, and even gladder that you’ve kept blogging over the many years.

  10. What a fabulous idea you ladies present. Must say, I’m feeling a little jealous–or perhaps inspired to do the same. Thanks

    • Hi Nora! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. These gatherings are always so interesting, revealing and fun. Especially when craving some social times and making new, like-minded friends. I hope you get to experience similar meet-ups with fellow (retirement) bloggers!!

  11. I just loved reading about your “meet-up” journey and I’m tickled to have been a part of it! Yes, you were with us in spirit and we shared how we each “met” you, too! I loved our walk with Aero when you and Mark were here and i”m really looking forward to seeing you somewhere in San Diego in a few weeks. You can meet Brodie and I know he will take to you quickly since you are such a dog-lover! Take care of yourself and say hi to Mark!

    • Hi Terri! Yes, you have been a part of my blogging journey and subsequent meet-ups, and I am glad about that! For sure, we are looking forward to seeing the whole, furry and not so furry, family later this year. I can’t wait to meet Brodie and see Aero again. Our current similar-sized pups will have a ball as well, if we all end up meeting or going for a walk together. Nice prospects!

  12. Well I haven’t met any fellow bloggers personally Liesbet, but sure enjoy meeting them virtually. It’s been great to get to know you and follow your travels.

    • Thanks, Denzil! If we would have had more time in Belgium last spring, it would have been wonderful to meet you in person. By the time I/we will be back, I won’t be part of your first blogger meet-up I suspect. 🙂

  13. Wonderful experience and it must make blogging so much more fun when you meet in person!

    • It adds a new dimension to the whole concept. And, now we can call each other “real” friends instead of virtual, or Facebook friends. 🙂

  14. Hi Liesbet, I’m coming to you after reading Janis’s and Donna’s posts. What fun times you all had! I’m quite jealous. I’ve met four fellow bloggers before, but all individually. A meet up of several together sounds wonderful.

    • It was a good time, Anabel. Often, I prefer smaller gatherings (as in two couples), but this was a fun meet-up, indeed, and I hope we will be able to repeat it one day.

  15. What a wonderful life to lead, and absolutely fantastic that you got to meet so many of your blog friends!

    • Our life is quite diverse, Damyanti, but it is very isolated as well, right now. We don’t belong to any “community” or groups, as we move around so much, so it was extra nice to get together with some of my blogging friends. Have you met any writers you only knew from online blogging before?

  16. Liesbet, the blogging community really is great, like-minded and supportive. I am yet to meet other bloggers, perhaps now that I have taken early retirement and will be travelling more, it will finally happen. It is so nice that you have had the opportunity to meet so many fellow bloggers. I follow some of the blogs you have mentioned above…all very inspiring people. I have only recently discovered your blog and already enjoying reading all about your adventures 🙂

    • Hi Gilda! I totally think that you will have the chance to meet up with fellow bloggers, now that you have more time on your hands. Maybe when you get to do that around the world backpacking trip! 🙂 I detect a lot more traveling will happen soon, and that is easily combined with connecting with worldwide bloggers you appreciate and follow. How exciting! When are you heading to the US? 🙂

      • A road trip in the US will be something I hope to do in the near future. If you come over here to the UK do get in touch would love to meet you 🙂

        • I will do! Mark and I hope to go to the UK one of these years when returning to Belgium for family visits. We have quite a few friends in the UK, met while sailing, and know a handful of amazing bloggers there as well. 🙂

  17. I was so nervous when I first met up with a group of bloggers, but it’s one of the best things I have done since I discovered the blogging world. Now, I find myself on the committee of The Annual Bloggers Bash and we’re already well into preparations for our 4th annual meet in May 2018.

    So pleased you’ve been able to meet up with other bloggers, Liesbet. It’s a magical moment that I hope we”ll all get to experience many more times.

    • These meet-ups are quite magical, Hugh. It is as if something new and exciting is created out of nothing but a few words on the internet. 🙂 You sure have come a long way from being nervous to meet new people to taking up such an important position in the Bash. An amazing feat in itself, together with the fact that so many bloggers really look up to you. You have become a “phenomenon”. 🙂

      • High praise indeed, Liesbet. Thank you so much. I hope you get to meet up with many more bloggers. I’ve always found that there is never a dull or silent moment when bloggers get together. It’s as if they have been friends since childhood.

        • Haha, that’s so right, Hugh. Enough topics to talk about, and, especially when the group exists of solely women, the mouths are always moving. 🙂

  18. I just loved reading about your “meet-up” journey

  19. In a small country like the UK you’d think I’d be running into bloggers left, right and centre, but those that I have met have taken a little organising. Fabulous times though, and lifelong friends. I agree, Liesbet. My blogging friends have enriched my life more than I could have thought possible. 🙂 🙂

    • Sometimes when people, like friends and bloggers, live closer by, it is harder to get together for some weird reason. I compare it to the countries close to Belgium that I have always wanted to visit (like Portugal :-), but that never happened. Yet, further regions on the opposite end of the world (like French Polynesia), I somehow stumbled upon already. I hope you get to meet some more awesome bloggers in the UK, Jo!

  20. Hi Liesbet, I just hopped over after reading Donna’s and Janis’ posts. Such fun meet-up you’ve had. It reminded me of when I met my pen pals for the first time. Look forward to reading more on your blogging discussions and future meet-ups.

  21. I’m reaching through the screen and giving you a huge hug. Like you Liesbet this joy of meeting fellow bloggers like yourself and Mark has been an unexpected joy. We too say it is the best thing about blogging. I loved seeing the photos of our time together in California. We so hope it will work again to meet in person. Thanks so much for linking back to our site. Hugs across the miles.Xo

  22. How wonderful! I am also slightly jealous… I have only managed to meet one blogger in the flesh to date, but I’m hoping that 2018 will see that number rise considerably! 🙂

  23. I already feel as if I know each of you through reading your blogs. So it is so cool that you were able to meet up.

    I hear you about the time consuming nature of staying connected via reading and commenting on blogs. My life is so full that I am not very good at keeping up.

    Jude

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